Comstock Publishing Associates

What are you doing for Earth Day?

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“Ecologically considered, it is not primarily our verbal statements that are ‘true’ or ‘false,’ but rather the kind of relations that we sustain with the rest of nature. A human community that lives in a mutually beneficial relation with the surrounding earth is a community, we might say, that lives in truth. . . . A civilization that relentlessly destroys the living land it inhabits is not well acquainted with truth, regardless of how many supposed facts it has amassed regarding the calculable properties of its world.”

David Abram

This Friday we celebrate Earth Day along with 1 billion other individuals in more than 193 countries. For over fifty years now, Earth Day has offered us all an opportunity to be more mindful of our place in the natural world and explore ways in which we can live more harmoniously within it.

While the threats to our environment can seem overwhelming at times, we do have the technology and know-how to make positive changes that can have a lasting and beneficial effect on the planet. The latest IPCC assessment report has made that abundantly clear – humanity can still slow catastrophic climate change, but we need to act quickly and collectively.

Thankfully, people around the globe are actively working to make such changes now. How can you get involved? One first step you can take is to donate to a national environmental group. Charity Navigator is a great place to start. You can also look at helping out local groups in your community. Cause IQ can help you find organizations doing good work wherever you may live.

If you live near a university, there are generally many like-minded individuals working diligently on sustainability issues, and Cornell University is certainly no exception. Cornell’s campuses are living laboratories for testing solutions to our environmental crises and for two years in a row now, Cornell has a earned the highest sustainability rating from the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.

Cornell University Press is proud to be an integral part of the university’s environmental mission through our Comstock Publishing Associates imprint. Founded as a standalone company in 1893 by Cornell professors John Henry Comstock and Simon Henry Gage, Comstock Publishing ‘s original mission was to publish accessible textbooks for students, as well as the nature study works of Anna Botsford Comstock, the University’s first female professor. Since those early decades, the imprint has continued to foster environmental stewardship by publishing books aimed at improving our understanding of science, nature, and the environment. Improving our understanding of the world is essential for us to make intelligent decisions that minimize our impact on the intricate ecosystems we all live in.

Where to start? Well, how about some completely free ebooks that you can read right now? The Cornell Series in Environmental Education, edited by Cornell Professor and Civic Ecology Lab Director Marianne Krasny, offers a great introduction to Comstock’s impressive list, including multiple open-access titles on critical topics. Continuing with Cornell-affiliated experts, prepare to have your eyes opened wide by Our Changing Menu: Climate Change and the Foods We Love and Need by Michael Hoffmann, Carrie Koplinka-Loehr and Danielle Eiseman.

John W. Fitzpatrick, Director Emeritus of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, joins fellow editors John Whitelaw, Jeffrey Brawn and Henry Pollock in the forthcoming book Elusive Birds of the Tropical Understory, which uses photographs of seldom-documented birds as a conservation tool. Vultures of the World takes a similar approach, helping us understand these widely recognized but very misunderstood birds.

While Comstock has field guides and books for many regions of the world, it is renowned as one of the premier field guide publishers specifically for Costa Rica. This year we will be expanding our sizable list with the recent publications of the second edition of Tropical Plants of Costa Rica, and Pocket Guide to the Insects of Costa Rica, as well as our forthcoming Pocket Guide to the Mammals of Costa Rica.

If you aren’t planning on travelling to Costa Rica anytime soon and live in northeastern North America, then take a look at the breathtakingly beautiful photographic guides in our Northern Forest Atlas Guides series. Our latest entries are the Grasses of the Northern Forest guides published just this month.

Comstock also has a growing list of amazing nature writing. Whether it’s The Paradise Notebooks: 90 Miles across the Sierra Nevada, When Birds Are Near (also see editor Susan Fox Rogers’s Learning the Birds from Three Hills), John Seibert Farnsworth’s recent books, or the forthcoming A Honeybee Heart has Five Openings, there are plenty to choose from.

Last but not least, and newly available, is Darryl Jones’s A Clouded Leopard in the Middle of the Road: New Thinking about Roads, People, and Wildlife. Jones sheds light on the challenges that roads pose to wildlife and shows what solutions we can take to address them.

So there you have it. A potential action plan, a reading list, and, we hope, some inspiration to do something this Earth Day. Get out there and be active, even if it’s a simple walk in nature and really noticing everything around you. That alone can do a world of good.

Jonathan Hall is the Digital Marketing Manager at Cornell University Press. He enjoys spending as much time as he can in nature with his adventurous family, friends, and happy-go-lucky dog.

Featured banner photo of Muir Woods by Billy Huyhn.

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